The other day I posted a story about Houston Nutt’s staff violating a recently passed NCAA rule prohibiting contact with high school juniors. In Ole Miss’ case, that involved sending written scholarship offers, signed by Nutt, to seven high school juniors. Nutt was fairly blasé about the transgression.
“I think the NCAA knows where our heart was and where our mind was on this thing, and I feel good about what was said,” Nutt said.
Nutt attributed the violation to a mistake, saying the offers were inadvertent and not a way to gain an advantage.
“I’m on the rules committee, and I understand where we’re going with secondary violations and I agree 100 percent,” Nutt said. “The coaches that are trying to get an advantage by doing secondary violations, they’re going to be punished. There’s no question about it, and that’s the way it should be.
“… That was not the intent of what we’re trying to do. It was very inadvertent. It’s a brand new rule. This rule just started.”
In its report, the school said its football staff “misunderstood the legislation and failed to remove seven junior prospects from their ‘scholarship offer’ mailing, mistakenly believing the letters would be permissible if sent to the prospect’s coach.”
Interestingly, it turns out that Mark Richt was guilty of a similar secondary violation. But compare the story and the outcome to Nutt’s:
Richt had contact with Curry prior Sept. 1 of his senior year, which is against NCAA Bylaws 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52.2.
In a letter from Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity to the SEC, McGarity called the violation “inadvertent.”
He wrote “Coach Richt was on a call with another prospective student-athlete (PSA) when he missed a call from a senior PSA’s mother (Mr. Sterling Bailey from East Hall High School in Georgia). The mother’s cell phone had a 678 area code. While he was checking the voicemail left by Ms. Bailey, Coach Richt missed another call from the 678 area code. After he listened to Ms. Bailey’s message, Coach Richt hit the send button for what he thought was Ms. Bailey. When a male’s voice answered the phone, Coach Richt was surprised and asked if it was Sterling, thinking he was calling Ms. Bailey and the PSA answered; however the person answering the phone told him he had the wrong number. When Coach Richt asked who it was, the individual said it was C.J. Curry.”
Richt ended the call and self-reported the violation to Georgia’s compliance office. Georgia’s coaching staff was also prohibited having any written or phone communication with Curry for 30 days.
So Richt knew at the time a problem had occurred, immediately ended contact and reported the error. All of which earned him a week’s suspension from contacting not just Curry, but any of Georgia’s recruits. Nutt and staff were merely prohibited from corresponding with the seven recruits for sixty days, presumably due to their ignorance.
At some point Georgia’s staff is going to realize that in dealing with the NCAA, the smart move is to be stupid.